How one can establish, interview and rent a head of development for an early-stage startup


The waters are by no means calm when scaling a startup. Actually, they’re usually fairly uneven. Nonetheless, by making the proper rent within the head of development place, you possibly can navigate to shore rather more easily.

The person you’re in search of will create and execute development methods, handle advertising initiatives and, finally, drive income. My extra casual tackle this function is that it’s somebody who deeply understands development fundamentals, has vital experience in a single to 2 development pillars and is aware of construct an efficient workforce.

I’ll stroll you thru when and rent your head of development, their archetypes, how this function stands other than different advertising government positions, and what to anticipate from this rent throughout their first few quarters.

Head of development archetypes

In my decade of development advertising, I’ve seen fairly a number of development leaders who started at varied startups, all possessing various ranges of expertise. To make it simpler, I’ve grouped these candidates into three main classes, or archetypes:

  1. Generalists: Expertise throughout quite a few development pillars.
  2. Specialists: Deep experience in a single pillar.
  3. Tertiaries: Knowledge, finance/VC, VC or product background.

Whereas I’ve seen members of every class develop into profitable as heads of development, I strongly advise hiring from both class one or class two for seed to Collection B startups.

When constructing a development perform from zero, it’s important to have somebody who can drive the execution on your early channels and campaigns. In terms of class three, I’ve solely witnessed success after a development workforce was already in place, with their efforts centered round optimizing efforts throughout information analytics and product.

Exterior of those three main archetypes, there are two vital flavors which might be constant throughout the teams:

These two flavors could make or break the success of your development efforts, as their sort of promoting is so distinct. Somebody coming from an in depth background of net acquisition at a B2B firm like Rippling wouldn’t be well-suited to run development at a B2C client startup equivalent to Spotify.

Most development entrepreneurs will closely index in B2B or B2C, as their careers usually keep on that path. Nonetheless, it’s fairly widespread to see development entrepreneurs who’ve expertise in each cellular and net acquisition, and it’s completely acceptable to rent them.

You’ll sometimes discover a unicorn who’s a generalist and has expertise in B2B, B2C, cellular and net. For those who do, recruit them instantly.

Head of Growths come in many flavors.

Heads of development are available many flavors. Picture Credit: Jonathan Martinez

How one can interview

I’m lucky to have been on either side of the interview desk for head of development positions, largely at tech B2C startups, so I’ve sense of what makes for wonderful interviewees.

Under are instance inquiries to ask and some case research I’ve seen work effectively:

Interview questions:

  • What are crucial development metrics for our startup to trace?
  • How would you measure success in our development efforts?
  • We’re having points in our funnel — how would you analyze and optimize?
  • What do you suppose our largest development levers are and why?


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